Uni Compare  · Apr 12th 2023

The MLitt is a degree that is offered in England and Scotland and covers certain subjects relating to Arts and Humanities.


The MLitt is a degree that focuses on Humanities subjects, but the degree itself goes way more in-depth than that. It goes into far more detail than you would expect, but how does the MLitt work?


What is an MLitt degree?

The MLitt stands for Magister Litterarum, which is Latin for ‘Master of Letters’ and is known to be awarded by older universities in England or Scotland. The MLitt definition shortens both words, Magister to ‘M’ and Litterarum to ‘Litt’ and combines the two.

An MLitt degree is a type of specialised Master’s degree originating within the ‘ancient universities’ of England and Scotland.

An MLitt degree is usually found in Literature, Theology, Law or History or related topics. These could be either an MLitt English Literature degree or an MLitt Medial History at Glasgow University as an example.

What is MLitt degree compared to other postgraduate qualifications?

The MLitt degree is a specialised Master’s degree, which ‘stands in’ for other postgraduate qualifications. It is typically awarded by institutions known as ‘ancient universities’ or as mentioned above in Scotland.

It features the same learning programme, which is either a taught or research degree, and replaces the MA (Master’s of Arts) or MPhil (Master’s of Philosophy) degrees other institutions award.

Scottish universities tend to organise their degree structure differently to other educational establishments, with the MA being an integrated four year ‘undergraduate’ Master’s, or even an automatic degree for BA graduates after a certain period of time.

he courses available are not restricted to just Arts and Humanities with many MLitt degrees offering specialised programmes.

What is an MLitt in Law?

An MLitt in Law is equivalent to a Master’s degree in Law, either an MA if it was a year-long course, or the same as an MRes if it was a two-year course based on research.

What are the different types of MLitt degrees?

The MLitt degree can come in two forms, in Scotland it is typically a one-year postgraduate course, similar to an MA. However, in England it is more likely to be a two-year research programme, similar to an MPhil or MRes, (Master’s of Research).

Both of these are Master’s level and recognised as level 7 postgraduate study, therefore, they have the same weight as a Master’s degree.

The degree isn’t just restricted to Literature, even though it sounds like it does, it also features related subjects. It can be offered as a research degree in History, Law, Theology, Politics and Philosophy. For example, a Dundee University MLitt Creative Writing course is a taught Master’s instead of a research programme.

The subjects available for MLitt degrees cover areas of the Arts and Humanities. However, sciences aren’t normally offered as they tend to come under Master’s of Science (MSc), or MRes or MPhil degrees.

University MLitt

What subjects can you study in an MLitt degree?

The courses available are not restricted to just Arts and Humanities with many MLitt degrees offering specialised programmes.

When you think about a Master’s of Letters course, don’t feel that you’re only going to find a literature or philosophy degree. You might instead end up studying an MLitt Legal Constitutional Studies course or an MLitt Creative Writing programme.

Find out what courses are available at your chosen university.

What do you need to get onto an MLitt degree course?

The entry requirements for an MLitt is the same basic prerequisites as other degrees at level 7, like a good Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject. Appropriate subjects and lower second class degrees may be eligible but admission policies for universities tend to be on a case-by-case basis.

Research MLitt degrees may ask for research proposals and theories to showcase your ability to do the work incorporated in the qualification.

The MLitt degrees on offer in the UK are typically research-based, where you’ll embark on a two-year research project for an original topic.

Where can I study an MLitt degree?

It is a rare qualification compared to other postgraduate awards.

The degree does originate in the ancient UK higher education system but few British universities still offer it. Most of the institutions are based in Scotland, where the MLitt stands in for the MA. For example, MLitt Glasgow programmes and St Andrews MLitt degrees are available.

‘Medieval’ English institutions, such as the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge award the MLitt, but as a research degree. The MLitt Oxford and MLitt Cambridge programme will be similar to an MRes.

But they’re not the only places that offer the degree in England, as people searching for MLitt London courses or in other places, like an MLitt Newcastle University programme, will be able to find them available.

It’s best practice to contact your interested institution to find out if an MLitt is on offer.

Can you study the MLitt degree in Ireland?

The National University of Ireland offers MLitt degree courses for the Human Sciences/Humanities and the Arts. Students register for the MLitt degree before they are upgraded to PhD courses.

Each school and institutes have their own entry requirements for the course, and pupils tend to complete a number of modules and a research project over four semesters, or six semesters if it is part-time.

Studying the MLitt degree abroad?

Outside of the UK, the ‘Master of Letters’ degree is less common, with only a small number of places in Australia and the USA offering it beyond the Master’s level. These type of courses may be beyond level 7 and may sit between a Master’s and a doctorate.

For America, there are several colleges known to offer the MLitt degree. Drew University in New Jersey, Middlebury College through the Bread Loaf School of English, and the Mary Baldwin College offers a unique MLitt degree in Shakespeare and Performance. Further, Faulkner University offers MLitt degrees, along with Sewanee: The University of the South which has one available in English. Then we have Oxford Graduate School in Tennessee which has an MLitt degree in Family Life Education and Organizational Leadership.

For Australia, two are listed as offering the MLitt programme, the Central Queensland University and the University of Sydney.

Candidates should get in touch with their chosen universities to find out if the MLitt is on offer.

Uni MLitt

How does the MLitt compare to other Master’s degrees?

What is an MLitt? It can be confusing to understand the differences in the degrees and why they have different letters. If you’re weighing up MSc vs MLitt or even an MLitt vs MPhil, the answer depends on what you want to study and why.

MSc and MPhil courses offer more subjects for science and research-based programmes, compared to the MLitt degree which is available in mostly Arts and Humanities.

The type of degree can vary on where you study the course, a Scottish university is more likely to award an MLitt degree compared to an English university.

MLitt vs MA

At Scottish universities, the taught MLitt degree stands in as an MA programme in the Arts and Humanities field. Both courses are taught with similar content, requirements and assessments. They are pretty much equivalent.

MLitt vs MPhil

English MLitt degrees are typically offered by Oxford and Cambridge. They tend to offer highly structured versions of the MPhil style of degree as a one-year course preparing students for a PhD programme.

The MLitt degree provides an alternative for pupils who want to complete a shorter research project which is usually two years.

However, a research MLitt degree doesn’t necessarily mean you can upgrade to a PhD programme, so this is worth checking beforehand.

MLitt vs PhD degrees

In some cases, like MLitt Cambridge degrees, MLitt’s can be handed out even if someone was studying for a doctorate. This can happen during a PhD degree if a candidate’s dissertation is substantial but falls short of the quality and originality expected in a doctoral thesis.

This isn’t across the board for all universities, and may not be available for all institutions who offer the MLitt degree.

It’s a great option for PhD students at the University of Cambridge who may have worked incredibly hard for their thesis but finds out it isn’t quite good enough. Their efforts are not wasted and instead, the students can be awarded an MLitt degree instead, still proving their postgraduate level of research.

This is similar for Oxford MLitt students who were on a DPhil Oxford (Doctor of Philosophy) degree, as they can transfer to an MLitt degree during their studies.

What are taught MLitt degrees?

These programmes may be a one-year taught Master’s course, where students can expect to conduct a lot of studying, similar to a postgraduate degree.

The MLitt degree is usually broken down into a series of modules for specific topics and areas of study. Students also usually have the option of choosing the modules that interest them the most.

At the end of the course, there is a final dissertation or project where students investigate and write up an original research topic.

Pupils tend to be assessed through coursework, essays, projects and assignments that take place at the end of each module.

The final dissertation normally asks you to write a 15,000 to 20,000-word thesis.

MLitt University

What are research MLitt degrees?

The MLitt degrees on offer in the UK are typically research-based, where you’ll embark on a two-year research project for an original topic.

Some MLitt courses may offer initial training in research methods, where you’ll learn how to hypothesize, theorise and write up your research. Most of the time they don’t include taught classes or modules.

Instead, MLitt degree students on research programmes will spend their time producing an independent project, similar to an MPhil or PhD student. You’ll be paired with a supervisor who can guide you throughout your research and you’ll be assessed solely on your final thesis.

Your final thesis tends to be longer than the normal dissertation on an MA course, as students will write 50,000 to 60,000 words for their research project. In context, this is halfway between a Cambridge or Oxford MPhil dissertation (which can be 30,000 words) and a PhD dissertation (which can be 100,000 words).

Should I study an MLitt degree?

It’s not an easy question to answer but an MLitt degree is typically for those taking on a similarly-taught MA course in Scotland, or those who wish to complete a shorter research project similar to what an MPhil is.

The MLitt stands for Magister Litterarum, which is Latin for ‘Master of Letters’ and is known to be awarded by older universities in England or Scotland.

How many credits is an MLitt degree worth?

MLitt degree courses are worth 180 credits, the same as an MA. 120 credits can be earned through completed modules and 60 credits are awarded for the final dissertation. Research-based qualifications will see the thesis worth 180 credits.

Where to write MLitt degree in your name?

The MLitt award is the same as other degrees, where the letters tend to follow your name. A Mr John Smith would then become a Mr John Smith, MLitt. It follows the same rules as if you had an MA, MRes, MPhil or PhD.

Can you get a student loan for an MLitt?

As the MLitt degree is a postgraduate qualification the same student loan requirements apply. There is a current postgraduate loan offered by the UK government to cover tuition fees and living costs for prospective candidates.

Students can receive up to £10,000 for their course and maintenance to help them study their one or two-year course.

It is worth checking what funding support you are entitled to and eligible for before applying.

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